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Bureau of International Organization Affairs
U.S. National Commission for UNESCO
Laura W. Bush Traveling Fellowship

Laura W. Bush Traveling Fellowship

President George W. Bush addresses the United Nations General Assembly in New York City on Thursday, September 12, 2002 during which he announces the U.S. intention to rejoin UNESCO. [White House/Paul Morse]
On September 12, 2002, President George W. Bush addressed the United Nations General Assembly and announced the intention of the United States to return to UNESCO, ending nearly a twenty-year absence from the organization. On February 13, 2003, First Lady Laura Bush was designated as the Honorary Ambassador for the United Nations Decade of Literacy, for which UNESCO is the lead agency. Seven months later, on September 29, Mrs. Bush led the ceremony raising the United States flag at the 32nd UNESCO General Conference, officially marking the return of the United States to UNESCO membership. The U.S. National Commission for UNESCO was reestablished on October 20, 2004 as a Federal Advisory Committee to assist with the U.S. engagement at UNESCO.

Mrs. Bush delivers the keynote address to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization ,UNESCO, General Conference Sept. 29, 2003 at UNESCO headquarters in Paris. [White House photo by Susan Sterner]The United States believes that peace depends upon building strong foundations of knowledge that bridge nations, enlarge freedoms, and promote democracy. The U.S. rejoined UNESCO to help build these foundations. It was in the spirit of this dedication to international commitment to human dignity that the “U.S. National Commission for UNESCO Laura W. Bush Traveling Fellowship” was created in 2008.

The fellowship will help fund a proposal designed by the applicant to conduct brief work in a foreign country related to the mandate of UNESCO – using education, natural sciences, social and human sciences, culture, and/or communication and information to build strong ties among nations. The fellowship is intended for American college/university students who express an interest in international collaboration but as of yet had not been afforded many opportunities to travel abroad. The length of time for the travel is expected to be between 4 and 6 weeks and should include interaction with individuals from other nations. During his/her travel, the recipient should be willing to participate in public diplomacy events arranged with the pertinent U.S. State Department Consulate, Mission, and/or Embassy. Following the travel, the recipient agrees to submit a report describing experiences and analyzing objectives achieved; share his/her experiences with others; and be available to make a presentation at the Annual Meeting of the U.S. National Commission for UNESCO.

Funding for this fellowship has generously come from a private donation. Future distributions of the fellowship may rely on further donations to the Department of State.


  • Must be a U.S. Citizen eligible for foreign travel
  • Must be at least 18 years old and not older than 25 at the time of application
  • Must be currently enrolled in an accredited U.S. college or university in the United States

The Application Package:
All material must be submitted electronically to the U.S. National Commission for UNESCO Executive Secretariat (DCUNESCO@state.gov) by March 1, 2009 (5:00pm EST).

  • Completed Application Coversheet (form DS-7646)
  • One page summary of project, including items that help provide a concise, clear understanding of proposal, such as:
    • Goal/Objectives/Outcomes
    • Timeline
    • Budget, funding and plan for supplementary funding should it be needed to complete objectives
    • Methodology for monitoring/evaluating success
    • Action plan/ideas for follow-on activities, public diplomacy
    • Any relevant resources or photos
  • Essay (up to 500 words, double spaced) stating interest in being considered for the award
  • Current résumé
  • One page letter of recommendation
  • Availability should you be called for an interview

Fellowship By-laws
Download current U.S. National Commission for UNESCO Laura W. Bush Traveling Fellowship by-laws

Only applications complete at the time of the deadline will be considered. A subcommittee of the U.S. National Commission for UNESCO, which, beginning in 2009, shall include a personal representative of Mrs. Laura W. Bush, will conduct an initial review of applications, conduct phone interviews as needed, and provide recommendations to the entire Commission. The Commission will then recommend the top candidate and up to three alternates to the U.S. government (via the Executive Secretariat of the U.S. National Commission for UNESCO within the Office of UNESCO Affairs at the Department of State). The Executive Director of the National Commission in the Office of UNESCO Affairs will determine the final recipient(s). The number of recipients and exact amount of money awarded will depend on the quality of applications and the funds available and may vary from year to year. The award(s) are expected to be $2,500.

Evaluation Criteria:

  • Originality and feasibility of proposal
  • Quality of essay
  • Apparent dedication to bridging nations, enlarging freedoms, and promoting democracy through one or more of UNESCO’s fields of competence
  • Performance during interview, if applicable

Previous Rounds and Recipients:
Spring/Summer 2008 Application Cycle
Video Message from inaugural recipients

  • Michael Aguilar (American University) – Culture, Peace, and Conflict Resolution in Central America [Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador]
  • Laura E. Olsen (College of William and Mary) – Ethnographic Research for Clean Water in Villa Mella [Dominican Republic]
  • Marika N. Shioiri-Clark (Harvard School of Design) – Designing for Airborne Diseased in India [India]

Fall/Winter 2008 Application Cycle

  • David Hee Lee (Georgetown University) - Stinky Peace: Bringing a Sustainable Income and Energy Source to Kabul [Afghanistan]
  • Heather LaRue McGee (University of Michigan) – The Conflict Mitigation Potential of Water Users’ Associations in Southern Kyrgyzstan [Kyrgyzstan]

Photo of recipients with First Lady Laura Bush

Current Round and Call for Applications
Spring/Summer 2009 Application Cycle: For applicants who will conduct their work from the period between May and August 2009:

  • January 15 - U.S. National Commission for UNESCO opens call for applications.
  • March 2, 5 p.m. EST - Deadline for proposals to be received by U.S. National Commission for UNESCO.
  • Week of March 16 - Subcommittee meeting to produce initial top candidates and conduct phone interviews, as needed.
  • Week of March 23 - Closed Federal Advisory Committee Act call to determine recommendations of final top candidate and alternates.
  • By April 1 - Announcement of recipient(s) by Executive Director of U.S. National Commission for UNESCO or U.S. State Department representative
  • By November 20, 2009 - Recipient(s) provides summary report of experiences.

For applicants who will conduct their work in Winter/Fall 2010, a mid-summertime call for applications will take place and deadline will be set.

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